The Austroasiatics in Ancient South China: Some Lexical Evidence Paper Example

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1913 Words
Date:  2022-08-30


Jerry Norman and Tsu-Lin Mei in 1976 published an influential piece by the title The Austroasiatics in Ancient South China: Some Lexical Evidence. The article places into consideration the vexing matters of the native and dispersal of the Austroasiatic Languages to demonstrate that the Austroasiatic occupied the shores of the middle Yangtze and sections of the southeast coast in the course of the first millennium B.C. A critical analysis gives shortly detailed evidence for nested sub-grouping among a dozen acknowledged branches, while lexical evaluation offers a long-term pattern of contact and convergence within mainland Southeast Asia. These pieces of evidence are interpreted as consistent with a geographical distant branch-the media River- is handled as an original outlier and the evolution of Munda root structure is reconstructed, dependable with this theory.

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The article begins laying a foundation to the topic at the discussion by giving detailed information on the tribal origin and sub-tribes under it.

The Austroasiatic (hereafter AA) family of languages includes the following groups: Munda in northeast India; Khasi in Assam; Palaung-Wa in Upper Burma and southern Yunnan; Mon-Khmer in Lower Burma and Cambodia, as well as in parts of Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand; and Vietnamese-Muong in Vietnam. (p. 274)

This approach is practical since it helps audience who are unfamiliar to the topic and division of the tribe to get extensive knowledge as a way of Jerry Norman and Tsu-Lin Mei prepares them to a detailed discussion in the subsequent parts of the article. Moreover, Norman and Tsui have also referenced this historical data in case the reader needs to read more of it he/she can access the sources.

Quantitative method

Under this method, Norman and Mei used scoped relevant data which is involved literature view. Literature review entails surveying of scholarly articles, books, or any other materials applicable to a specific matter to provide a summary, critical evaluation, or description of these pieces in association to the research problem being handled (Rowe 244). After an introduction, the subsequent section offers a short literature view from related studies which summaries the recent studies on the research question. Through the reviewed session, a reader can conclude there is a gap that needs to be filled. In the first viewed literature is a point out how Mon-Khmer language relates to Chinese and Tai language: “Haudricourt's view that Vietnamese is a Mon-Khmer language, which came under the influence of Tai and Chinese’’ (p.275). The next reviewed journal seconds the first one by showing giving an exact location of where Muong dwell that is between the Vietnamese and Mon-Khmer: a recent study by Ruth Wilson shows that Muong occupies an intermediate position between Vietnamese and Mon-Khmer. By reviewing, the three articles Norman and Mei end up by justify the need for it to provide evidence to support Haudicourt’s thesis. Therefore building it’s relate on previous work

The articles continue to critically evaluate great materials to demonstrate the research problem and what the literature had presented by the time they were writing this document. These viewed articles are Chinese and Indo-European by Pulleybank, Aurousseau, La premiere conquête Chinoise de pays annamit by L. Auroussea, and, dictionaries such as H. L. Shorto's two Mon dictionaries (P.278). What was most striking about the analysis it not only narrowed systematically to research problem but also carefully examined of the specific authors' rendition of issues and argument they present without an attempt to establish whether the authors were “representative” their society. Through analyzing, several kinds of literature assert the claim by Pan (133) that one literature piece alone is insufficient to assume assumption. The text provides enough evidence of how Norman and Meis’ peer scholar responded to the topic, from which the drive an assumption that there are other reasons for believing that AA once extended far into the present borders of China.

Before presenting the evidence, the articles gathered on loan words, and the article engages in a forum that presents Yüeh people was at least partly AA. The first claim they pose it that Yüeh was part of Vietnam. Secondly, they give bones and bronze inscription, which was discovered, had a graph of a pictograph of an axe, Norman and Mei proof the claim by referencing to secondary sources that assert the link between AA and the discovered axe: rectangular axe and the shouldered axe were respectively associated with the Austronesians. Further, this review justice the importance of the study by informing a reader of the existence of limited proof that Yüeh people were the AAs’ by stating that Yiiçh song contained in Liu Hsiang's Shuo-yiian. According to Izui Hisanosuke, is in a language resembling Cham (P.276), however, they claim that Chinese translation together with Yüeh gives little evidence to prove the word borrowing took place.

Lexical method

After reaffirming the need of this research to fill the gap, left by current literature- limit proof of Yüeh people was AAs. The scholars introduced the section of discussing loan words, which was facilitated by the use of a Lexical method. According to Miller and Biber (35), Lexical is a traditional quantitative data tool, which significantly facilitates analysis of text while remaining ingrained in a tradition of semantic coding. In line with the lexical method, Norman and Mei gathered some words that have a similar meaning in both AA and Yue. For example, they analyzed the phrase“to die.” Claiming that “In Zheng Xuan’s commentary on the Zhouli, the gloss 越人謂死為札 “The Yue people call ‘to die’ 札 occurs.” (P.277)

They stated that in the contemporary society, the phrase is pronounced as “Zha,” the through a discussion to prove the validity of their claim by giving view how to die could have been pronounced in Zheng Xuan’s era, asserting that the term is of AA roots, and it is similar to the present world for “to die” in Vietnamese, “chết.”(P.277)

Another word they analyzed was a dog.Norman and Mei discuss that this word, which is currently is pronounced naosou, would have been uttered at the time the Shuowen was accumulated as something like “nog-sig.” Which shows similarity a segment on characters from a dictionary from the early second century CE, the Shuowen 説文, comprises the dog radical (犬) has polish on the term “sou 獀” that articulates “‘sou’ – Southern Yue [people] call dogs ‘naosou’. This approach to text analysis offered concrete evidence to the claim by not only identifying semantic content but also it offered significant structural elements of the language of AA and Yüeh people. A lexical analysis was backed up with quantitative analysis of literature material to affirm the arguments they presented. For example, the quoted Literature by Sagart by stating that sagart“stated “札 is a well-attested Chinese word also meaning ‘to die (of external causes/early/in a rampant). (P.279)

Most likely, did not use a retrieving tool. Hence, it did not offer a bridge between qualitative and quantitative analysis. The reason Norman and Mei use this approach is that they were handling small-scale survey. Amores et al, (270) however, this approach is limited to a broad survey scale. Norman and Mei would have used a Bayesian model as a way of bridging quantitative and qualitative analysis in the study. Bayesian inferent model is a strategy by which a researcher can calculate the probability of an incident based on some driven hypothesis and the finding of prior related studies (Roberts, et al, 998-1003). Moreover, it offers benefit such as inferring the words associated with a given topic and topic being discussed in a given study, grounded in an analysis of a set of articles the researcher has already reviewed.

Moreover, they have gone to the extent of accounting the linguistically changes that took place causing a mismatch in the pronunciation of some words such the Jiyun, which is pronounced “nou,” and also cited the dog term in the Shuowen. Nevertheless, Norman and Mei explained stating that:

In looking up the term for a dog in this Austronesian Comparative Dictionary, one can see why Sagart would suggest that this term comes from an Austronesian language, as “you-you” or “ou-sou,” the earliest recorded pronunciation, is very close to the word for “dog” in many Austronesian languages. (p.289)

Such robust explanations backed up with evidence from literature in AA language strengthen their claim and dismiss any ground that stands a threat to their assumption.


This article falls procedurally. Because it begins by describing, the tribe of AA with its subgroups laying backbone to the rest of the paper then proceeded to establish a gap in the literature it viewed. After identifying the deficit, it then justified the need of conducting a study by providing evidence though not strong of the research related to the research and showing the weakness present in the evidence presented. Having established the need for the study, it proceeded to explain the evidence that shows loan words took plan by text analyzing technique, which Norman and Mei presented a claim, and then revealed the claim through text analysis followed by confirmation from literature and then conclusion statement that affirms the association of AA and Yuein people. Below it is an example of a necessary procedure found in the article’s paragraphs.

We would like to suggest that the Min word is related to the AA etymon represented by VN con 'child.'(Claim)’ This etymon is very widely distributed throughout Austroasiatic: Khmer koun, Spoken Mon kon, Written Mon kon, kxven, Bru koon, Chong kheen, Wa'/:^, Khasi khu.(explanation) it is also well represented in Munda: Kharia kônon 'small,' Santali hon 'son, child,' Ho hon 'child.'74(reference). The Min form agrees with the AA forms, which have mid back rounded vowels whereas the Min forms predominantly show low to mid unrounded vowels. The Min form of Kienyang (evidence) however, has a rounded medial, which may indicate that the Min forms derive from some earlier rounded vowel (conclusion statement). (p. 289)

Besides, it has elements of organizational form. Through, the section of the articles are not named to indicate this portion is introduction, body, or conclusion, but observing the following in the paper, one can know where introduction, body, and, conclusion are located irrespectively.


Peer review by Norman and Mei is a very persuasive article. It is because it has presented its arguments is the most effective manner, which is backed up with healthy, and rationale pieces of evidence and explanation. Hence, developing the feeling of contentment with what has been presented before a reader.

Works cited

Amores, Mario, Leticia Arco, and Claudia Borroto. "Unsupervised Opinion Polarity Detection based on New Lexical Resources." Computación y Sistemas 20.2 (2016): 263-277.

Miller, Don, and Douglas Biber. "Evaluating reliability in quantitative vocabulary studies: The influence of corpus design and composition." International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 20.1 (2015): 30-53.

Roberts, Margaret E., Brandon M. Stewart, and Edoardo M. Airoldi. "A model of text for experimentation in the social sciences." Journal of the American Statistical Association111.515 (2016): 988-1003.

Rowe, F. (2014). What literature review is not: diversity, boundaries and recommendations. 241-255

Pan, M. Ling. Preparing literature reviews: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. Routledge, (2016):9-153

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The Austroasiatics in Ancient South China: Some Lexical Evidence Paper Example. (2022, Aug 30). Retrieved from

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